It’s time to jump into the way-back machine for a trip to the 1950s, courtesy of UC’s College-Conservatory of Music and a production of William Inge’s Picnic, a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner from 1953. With his portraits of small-town life and settings rooted in the American heartland, Inge became known as the “playwright of the Midwest.” Picnic tells the story of a single mother and her two daughters in a rural Kansas town. Their lives are turned upside down when a handsome drifter arrives. The production is directed by CCM drama chair Richard Hess, who says “This play is about the possibility of lives connecting and changing forever. Nothing huge happens, except the hugest thing in the world — someone falling in love and deciding to change the course of their life because of it. I think we all want to believe there’s still hope for that.”
Shows directed by Hess are always thoughtful because he knows how to draw unexpectedly deep performances from young actors. “One of the major challenges has been to stay in a 1950s mentality,” says Clare Ward, a sophomore who plays Madge Owens, one of the daughters in Picnic. “It’s so easy to revert to approaching things from a more modern perspective. I’ve enjoyed listening to music from the 1950s and thinking about how Madge might have filled her days.” The production of Picnic is dedicated to the memory of Paul Rutledge, Professor Emeritus of Theater, who passed away recently at the age of 91. Rutledge began his 35-year teaching career at UC just a few years before Picnic first appeared on Broadway. He would no doubt appreciate that connection.
Through April 25. $15-$28. Get showtimes, tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here.